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2015 | ICC Prosecutor opens a preliminary examination of the situation in Palestine

On 2 January 2015 the Government of Palestine acceded to the Rome Statute (the founding statute of the International Criminal Court). The Office of the Prosecutor considers that, since Palestine was granted observer State status in the UN by the UNGA, it must be considered a "State" for the purposes of accession to the Rome Statute One day earlier the Government of Palestine had lodged a declaration accepting the jurisdiction of the ICC over alleged crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, since June 13, 2014. Accordingly, on Jan. 16 2015 the ICC Prosecutor opened a preliminary examination into the situation in Palestine. In doing so, the Office will seek to contribute to the two overarching goals of the Rome Statute: the ending of impunity, by encouraging genuine national proceedings, and the prevention of crimes.

The goal of a preliminary examination is to collect all relevant information necessary to reach a fully informed determination of whether there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation. This will include an examination of the existence of relevant national proceedings in relation to the potential cases being considered for investigation by the Office. The Office does not enjoy full investigative powers at this stage, but may seek additional information from States, organs of the United Nations, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and other reliable sources that are deemed appropriate. The Office's activities are also aimed at supporting domestic investigative and prosecutorial strategies, and identifying pending impunity gaps and the scope for possible remedial measures.

This press release explains the process that lead to Palestine's accession to the Rome Statute, clearing the way for it to trigger a preliminary examination. The examination could theoretically lead to a full investigation into actions by both Israelis and Palestinians during the war known as 'Operation Protective Edge' in July and August of 2014.

Click here to read about the June 2015 submission by the Government of Palestine of alleged Israeli war crimes, to the ICC. The GoP hopes to speed up the preliminary examination.